It's OK for intellectual feminists to like fashion

Blog title from Hadley Freeman's book The Meaning of Sunglasses : "Prada styles itself as the label it's OK for intellectual feminists to like".

The author is a bilingual fashion editor, writer and translator with a serious blog, cinema and magazine habit.

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Note at the end of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil:

This book was set in a version of Sabon, a typeface designed by the well-known German typographer Jan Tschichold (1902-74). Sabon’s design is based upon the original letter forms of Claude Garamond and was created specifically to be used for three sources: foundry type for hand composition, Linotype, and Monotype. Tschichold named his typeface for the famous Frankfurt typefounder Jacques Sabon, who died in 1580.

Turns out books often have explanations on the type used, I just never noticed before.

Previously on Fashion Abecedaire: Berling Roman

Posted at 7:18am and tagged with: Typeface geekery, the librarian,.

Note at the end of Justine Picardie’s Daphne:

The text of this book is set in Berling roman. A modern face designed by K.E. Forsberg between 1951-58. In spite of its youth it does carry the characteristics of an old face. The serifs are inclined and blunt, and the g has a straight ear.

I wish all books had notes explaining which font was used and why.


Mlle. L.

Font picture from Aquinas College page. It using Berling roman “as the standard (text) copy type for publications.”

Previously on Fashion Abécédaire: Heaven holds a place for those who pray

Posted at 5:41pm and tagged with: the librarian, Justine Picardie, Typeface geekery,.

I am currently reading Justine Picardie's Daphne. I haven’t been that enthralled by a book in a long long time. Yesterday, I actually considered not going to work to be able to finish it. I believe there should be reading days alongside sick days, but this is for a different time and a different economy.

In a twist echoing his own life, the forgotten Branwell Brontë is the fourth main but invisible character of the book. I pride myself in being a Brontë fan. By the age of 16, I had read Charlotte and Emily and Anne. And yet, up until two days ago, I had no idea they had a brother.

According to Picardie’s narrative

"Branwell was disgraced because of the discovery of his scandalous affair with Mrs Robinson, who was not only married, but fifteen years older than her son’s tutor"

I’d like to think Mike Nichols Charles Webb decided to name his Mrs Robinson from Branwell’s life. His book was published in 1963, Daphne du Maurier’s The Infernal World of Branwell Brontë, the biography which introduced him to the world was published in the UK in 1960.

Though this might just be a very out of character excès de romantisme.


Mlle. L.

PS: The picture is of Menabilly, du Maurier’s house and the original Manderley

Posted at 6:07am and tagged with: The Librarian, du Maurier, Brontë, Justine Picardie,.

Fashion education comes in many ways and forms. I personally consider reading the kiddy novel Les Petites Filles Modèles when I was a bout 8 a turning point in my interest in clothes.

The novel was written in the second half of the 19th century by the Franco-Russian aristocrat Sophie Feodorovna Rostopchine, Comtesse de Ségur. In retrospect I have many issues with the way it portrays girls and women, encouraging them to be first and foremost nice and dutiful.

Half way through the book one of the main characters, Marguerite, who must be about 8, is given a doll with a full trousseau. The description of the wardrobe, which goes on for about two pages, is a work of art in garment naming. Everything is precise, from the name of the textile used to the name of the piece of clothing itself. Needless to say, many of those are not worn anymore.

"… Marguerite était enchantée de sa jolie poupée et de son trousseau. Dans le tiroir d’en haut de la commode, elle avait trouvé:

1 chapeau rond en paille avec une petite plume blanche et des rubans de velours noir;

1 capote en taffetas bleu avec des roses pompons;

1 ombrelle verte à manche d’ivoire;

6 paires de gants;

4 paires de brodequins;

2 écharpes en soie;

1 manchon et une pèlerine en hermine.

Dans le second tiroir:

6 chemises de jour;

6 chemises de nuit;

6 pantalons;

6 jupons festonnés et garnis de dentelle;

6 paires de bas;

6 mouchoirs;

6 bonnets de nuit;

6 cols;

6 paires de manches;

2 corsets;

2 jupons de flanelle;

6 serviettes de toilette;

6 draps;

6 taies d’oreiller;

6 petits torchons.

Un sac contenant des éponges, un démêloir, un peigne fin, une brosse à tête, une brosse à peignes.

Dans le troisième tiroir étaient toutes les robes et les manteaux et mantelets; il y avait:

1 robe en mérinos écossais;

1 robe en popeline rose;

1 robe en taffetas noir;

1 robe en étoffe bleue;

1 robe en mousseline blanche;

1 robe en nankin;

1 robe en velours noir;

1 robe de chambre en taffetas lilas;

1 casaque en drap gris;

1 casaque en velours noir;

1 talma en soie noire;

1 mantelet en velours gros bleu;

1 mantelet en mousseline blanche brodée.”


Mlle. L.

Picture: Musée de la poupée et du jouet ancien

Posted at 6:20am and tagged with: quotes on a Monday, nostalgia, The Librarian,.

… where Helen Gurley Brown gives wardrobe advice to the Mad Men generation.

Gurley Brown’s book Sex and the Single Girl was first published in 1962, before she became editor of US Cosmopolitan. A self-help book before self-help books became fashionable, one of the first of its kind to be turned into a movie, Gurley Brown’s semi-biographical classic is often considered a feminist milestone.

It has however not necessarily aged well. Some of her suggestions could now be considered downright injurious, not to mention bad advice. More than a few of them would probably be accepted as evidence by a jury in case of sexual harassment.

In chapter 10, Gurley Brown advises her readers on how to put together the best wardrobe, with a minimum of funds. Reading it, I had Joan in mind:

But how about men? Shouldn’t you dress to please them?

One of the best ways not to, in my opinion, is to let them get into the act. Why is it assumed just because a man is a man he knows what you should wear? Do you tell him what to look for in a car? - a subject on which he is undoubtedly more knowledgeable than you.

She is a strong advocate of taking inspiration from fashion magazines, of following fashion, at least in skirt length and jumper colour, of “copycating a mentor with better taste than yours” and of picking labels you know you can always trust.

Most of her suggestions are common sense, and because her book was aimed to outlast trends, she gives no direction on how to pick a Betty-worthy full skirt. It is a good vintage book read, to enjoy with a dry-martini and a hot bath.


Mlle. L

Title from Mad Men season 2, episode six, Maidenform. Of course, pronouced by Joan to Peggy.

Quote from

Gurley Brown, H., Sex and the Single Girl (1962, new edition 2003) Barricade Books, pp.186-202

Posted at 10:26am and tagged with: Mad Men, Helen Gurley Brown, The Librarian,.